I have been thinking even more about my relationships than I normally do! As I have been wrapping up presents with ribbons and bows for the special people I love the most, I started thinking about what I am going to tell my husband in the Christmas letter we always write to one another.
I think I would have to thank him for having his Relationship Repair Counter open this year. I will not go into all the specifics and numerous examples of great Relationship Repair by Brendan Knarr, but I will tell you one recent story. Suffice it to say that I am like most wives, and I get confused when my husband is taking his shift at parenting the kids. He does a great job, and one part of my female brain thinks about how fortunate I am that he engages and relates to our children! I am so thankful that there is one part of me that thinks, “I really should not complain about how hubby is typically not multitasking.” The other part of my female brain is irritated, and I desperately want hubby to spend part of the time sweeping the floor, straightening up the family room, and sorting the mail while he is supervising the children. I know. He is engaged in normal male behavior – this whole multitasking problem is a regular detail that is mentioned during the sessions of nearly all my couples.
Nonetheless, the irritated part of my brain recently took over. I filed my complaint, in part due to the typical holiday stress of trying to fit in shopping, wrapping, Christmas concerts and parties. I took a risk, and I asked Brendan during his shifts with the kids could he just do a bit more straightening and cleaning. A tall order, and I think I was pretty much a Grinch when I filed the darn complaint.
Last Saturday I came downstairs after my husband had taken his early morning shift with our three year old. He had straightened up and the counters were clean. It was magical. For me, The Best Gift Of All, no kidding is the Relationship Repair Counter being open, not just when I filed this complaint. More generally, both of us having the humility to say “I am sorry,” and “I can fix that for you,” “and I am not perfect, but I love you so I will keep trying to do the things that make you happy.”
If you think about the more religious meaning of Christmas, even my clients who are not Christians can relate to this metaphor. The story is that Christ came to Earth, a Gift from God, with humble beginnings. We are not perfect, but we can be forgiven.
There are hundreds of opportunities for relationship repair all around us and all of them require humility and acknowledging our imperfections, and servicing others.
Trust me when I tell you that I have not always had these kind of relationships with Relationship Repair Counters earlier in my life, which makes the gift all that more sentimental now.
If you can do one thing this Christmas, when your sweetheart complains about something, fix it permanently with excellent follow-through. It will make him or her want to kiss you under the Mistletoe. I promise.